Incredible footage recorded off the coast of southern Italy shows the moment when the Stromboli volcano erupted on Wednesday, sending a towering cloud of ash surging across the water toward tourists in a nearby boat.
Traveller Elena Schiera recorded her group’s dramatic boat escape from the ash cloud in videos originally posted on Instagram.
She and her travelling companions were near Stromboli Island, off the coast of Messina in Sicily, when the eruption occurred.
The video starts with the boat sitting on the water while Schiera films the volcanic eruption, which throws a massive column of soot and ash directly up into the sky. She and her companions can be heard marvelling at the scene.
Their amazement turns to terror as the ash cloud starts rolling out across the water in a wall heading right for them.
The speedboat suddenly takes off, trailing a dinghy behind it in the choppy waters. Schiera keeps the camera trained on the volcano while they make their getaway, with the ash cloud barrelling toward them.
A woman can be heard trying to comfort her terrified mother during the escape.
“Don’t worry, Mama!” she shouts in Italian. “Stay calm. Stay calm! It’s just smoke.”
A second video shows the tourists again marvelling at the smoke, which has stopped racing toward them. The video shows the smoke cloud reaching several kilometres into the sky and blanketing much of the water behind them.
Schiera also posted a series of photos showing a fine layer of ash covering the boat after their escape.
Earlier photos posted to her account show she was vacationing near Italy’s Aeolian Islands before the eruption.
The eruption happened just after noon local time on Wednesday, according to the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology. It was the second such explosion this summer. The first eruption killed an Italian hiker on July 3.
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Stromboli is one of three active volcanoes in Italy. The island itself has a tiny population of just 400 people.
Small fires were reported after the eruption, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.